TAGSExplorer: Interactive archive of twitter conversations from a Google Spreadsheet for #edcmchat #edcmooc

http://hawksey.info/tagsexplorer/?key=0AlRH7JoVHnnLdENHMm54RWVQN1NNU0tJZEpsXzQ3UEE&sheet=oaw Fascinating statistics! I’m not a mathematician or a statistician and my eyes usually glaze over when I see graphs but I love the way that this graphic shows the interactions. I am also amazed and a litle proud that my name stands out just a bit! I find the Twitter chats quite energising and love the free flow of ideas that punctuate the chat. The ideas take some to process and synthesise, time which I am sorely lacking right now but I am sure that they will not be forgotten and will inform my thoughts in the future. Thanks everyone.

#edcmooc #edcmchat

Laptop computer on a table in a garden. There are roses from the garden in a vase to the right of the computer. It is a sunny day.I just took part in my first Twitter chat. An hour – well, not quite because I missed the start which was a bad move as I was behind before I even started – of fast paced tweeting with so many interesting threads and comments. However, time went fast and it was over before I knew it.  I tended to be more of a stalker than a contributor, probably because I was late to it and spent some time catching up, reading tweets and trying to work out what the questions were that everyone was answering! I retweeted and favourited but found that my brain just isn’t really quick enough to think of meaningfull comments of my own! An I am just a little bit scared too!  I connect with what one Tweeter said;

“The one thing that has concerned me is airing unformed views that might be misinterpreted. #edcmchat

I have taken a while to get going with Twitter and with blogging because I don’t feel that anyone else would necessarily be interested in what I think.  Why would they?  For a long time I wrote my blog but kept it private for that very reason.  One day I daringly ventured to tweet a new blog post and a Twitter friend suggested that maybe I should make my blog public because she thought what I had said made sense.  That one vote of confidence was an epiphany for me despite the fact that my husband had said all along that I should make it public. (But he is biased!)

Getting back to the point though, I think I have learned over the last year or so, and certainly the last week, that unformed comments have to be made so that people can react, to prompt discussion, to engender debate and as the interaction progresses the ideas take on shape, substance and depth.  So what if they are misinterpreted – that just gives you the opportunity to explain and in so doing helps you to think ideas through, it offers different points of view and forces you to think from an alternative perspective.

Thank you to all those people who retweeted my few comments or who replied to them – it is strange how empowering and encouraging that response is.

So, I think I will be more organised for the next edcmchat and more confident about making comments.  I am going to make a list so that I can add people to it when I see a comment that I resonate with so that if I need to I can go back to it later.  I am going to be brave and go for it!

#edcmooc

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Well, I have taken the plunge and signed up to a Coursera online course called Elearning and Digital Cultures.  I actually signed up back in November but the reality of it has only set in now that I have had a welcoming email, joined the edcmooc FB page, Google+ page and started tweeting with the edcmooc hashtag.  Reading the posts on FB and G+ I have started to feel a little overwhelmed and hope that I am not going to be out of my depth. 

It is a busy time of year here too – the start of a new school year and I have a lot to do to get ready for my classes as well as for the other areas for which I am responsible. Two school camps to get through this term so there is tons of paperwork for that although the time away, once we actually get there, is always great fun and definitely worth the hard work needed to get there.

One of my reasons for wanting to do this course is because I am the “IT Teacher Coach” at my school. It is a strange role and the story of my having it is complicated, but essentially I am available 7 hours over 6 days (we have a strange timetable!) to help my colleagues with using technology.  I have no formal qualifications and am definitely not a tech geek ( I leave that to the IT support team – they do the fixing and trouble shooting!) but developed a passion for using computer technology with my classes back in the 1990s when I had challenging French classes which consisted mainly of boys.  It was an attempt to find some way of reaching them and catching their attention so that I could sneak some French language into them without them really noticing! 

My role has metamorphosed, but I still have the official title “IT Teacher Coach”, and I still spend a lot of my time helping teachers with basic “nuts and bolts” of how to do stuff on email, how to insert images in docs, how to do stuff on the SMARTboard, how to use Google Docs etc. However,  I am finding that, as I and a few other teachers experiment with different ways of teaching and learning with our students using online activities, more and more of our colleagues are gaining in confidence and wanting to try things out too.  So I have spent more time helping and them to do that. 

This year our school theme is “Connected”, the whole focus of our Professional Development is on Blended Learning and I am one of the leaders for that.  We are still finding our way, and I am sure it is going to be one that we stumble our way along but it is surely going to be an interesting journey and we will learn from our mistakes. 

Hopefully this course will help me see the way a little more clearly, or maybe, as is often the case when there is so much information bombarding you, the waters will initially be even more muddied?! Nevertheless, I am excited to be on the expdition, nervous about taking the first few steps but eager to set off.

Conference envy!

I am not at Learning@schools this year as I thought I would be recovering from shoulder surgery, but have been trying to keep in touch with what is going on through the Twitter Feeds. This organisation and another similar one seem to be making an impact. I think we already have a fantastic and stimulating environment for our students to work and develop in, but there is no reason why we can’t think how we can make it better. I have the good fortune to have a brand new, beautiful classroom this year and have enjoyed being able to put posters on the walls and create a pleasant and (hopefully) stimulating learning space. However, I am conscious that what I perceive to be an environment conducive to learning, may not be what the students see as stimulating for their learning. I will observe how the classes work in the room and we can move furniture around as appropriate. Unfortunately, I had no control over the types of tables and chairs so will have to be creative around what I have been given. Nevertheless, the lighting, the ventilation, the aspect and the layout is fantastic and I look forward to welcoming the students in and encouraging them to make it their space as well as my space.

Prototype is another organisation that seeks to look at how we and the students can best use the tools at our disposal for teaching and learning. I like this statement from their website under the heading “The shift from tools to learning”; “While many ideas celebrated emerging technology and the impact of architecture, the groups’s energy focused more on “what” students (and teachers) would be challenged “to do” in a truly 21st Century learning environment.” I constantly ask myself what I can do with a tool to make it work for my students and to help their learning. All too often I end up in lectures at conferences where people talk about how wonderful a tool is without giving us any concrete ideas or example as to how it can work in a real classroom environment. I know that I can use my own imagination to create new ways of doing but in the hectic madhouse that is the academic, teaching year, there is often not the time for thought and creativity. I am lucky because I enjoy creating and thinking and imagining, and I think I have said before that I get bored easily and so need new ways to teach old stuff to keep me motivated. However. I know that others are not blessed with the time I have, nor with the inclination, and prefer to have those concrete examples given to them so they don’t have to do the thinking that they have so little time to do. And, yes, I know you might be thinking that it is good for us to take a bit of time out to think, that it actually helps us to develop and ultimately makes us feel better, but I know that it is often difficult to persuade some people that it is good for them.
I was reading a blogpost by Steve Wheeler the other day; 7 Reasons why teachers should blog and I also read the many comments on that blog which suggested many reasons why teachers didn’t blog! Time, or lack of it, was the major factor cited by many. I responded by saying that I am a firm believer in using the tools available to us to enable learning. I too have found it difficult to find time to blog, and the long gaps between my blogs reflect that. However, one of my personal goals in 2011 was to try to reflect more on my lesson, what worked and what didn’t and what I could do to modify what I did to make it more effective. I have been using Springpad to plan my lessons and reflect on how they worked. I have found that making time for that daily reflection has been hugely beneficial and I hope that I have improved my practice as a result. I will continue to use it this year. I used to use Onenote which I think is a great product but when I bought a new computer, I went Open Source and so had to find a new tool. I tried several but Springpad works for me. I like the way I can add documents, links to websites, videos, sound files to it so that I can build a sort of scheme of work with associated resources. I can also add photos, sound recordings and videos that i take in class with my phone and it automatically adds them to that lesson so that I have “evidence” of learning for my teacher registration portfolio. O-oh! Spuds are burning, better go and sort them!